What lifestyle changes can help me manage psychosis?

Psychosis can make you feel like you are not in control of your mind. It can be debilitating when trying to perform basic daily activities. But by making positive improvements in your daily living through lifestyle changes, you can better manage symptoms—and sometimes even prevent an episode.

For those that choose to not take medication or receive treatment from a therapist to manage symptoms, making better lifestyle choices is essential. Lifestyle changes can also complement your treatment plan if you are taking medications or seeing a therapist regularly.

Know your triggers

Psychosis can be triggered by poor health, smoking, and lack of sleep. Other possible triggers include depression, anxiety, and high levels of stress over an extended period of time. Unhealthy habits may contribute to mental health symptoms that are triggers for psychotic episodes. By knowing your triggers, you can make lifestyle changes that will result in lowering the risk of psychosis.

Lifestyle changes as a form of treatment

Sleep and meditation

During sleep, our bodies recover from the day and heal. Not getting enough sleep makes the mind very vulnerable to mental illness, such as depression and hallucinations. Lack of sleep also makes it more difficult to manage stress, which can be a trigger for psychosis. Make sure to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night for optimal brain function.

I found a regular schedule helps me get better. Eight hours of sleep, and less distracting activities.

Biren, 39

Meditation can also assist in relaxation. Clearing your head of any thoughts that can cause the mind to wander may prevent an episode of psychosis. Find a quiet place to close your eyes and quiet your mind every day to relieve yourself of any negative emotions.

Nutrition

Studies have shown that a diet that consists of natural foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, helps to manage symptoms of mental illness. Processed foods that are high in unnatural ingredients can negatively affect our mood, hurting the thought processes in our brain. [1]

Include more nutritious foods in your meals and avoid snacks that are high in saturated fats and sugars. Also, it’s a good idea to eat breakfast so you feel satisfied until lunch. Feeling hungry is uncomfortable and can make it more difficult to create healthier eating habits.

Hobbies and support

Holistic measures for managing psychosis also include doing activities that are enjoyable and promote well-being. Through activities like painting, music, or reading, you can find enjoyment in your life—while also finding yourself. Spend time every day doing a hobby that you like. If you don’t have one, try different activities and choose the one that you enjoy!

Talking to other people who are also experiencing psychosis helps to find comfort and shows you are not alone. People who experience psychosis say that talking with other people about their experiences has helped them cope with their mental illness. Reach out to friends, family, and support groups in your community.

Yoga and outdoor movement

One of the best things you can do for your mental health is move your body! Walking in nature reduces negative mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety. This helps enhance your quality of life. Being outdoors reduces stress and makes your workout more enjoyable. [2] Physical activity also increases chemicals in our brain needed to improve thought processes and prevents chemical imbalances that can cause psychosis. [3]

Do 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity you enjoy at least 5 days a week to receive maximum benefits. You can do a variety of activities outside and even join an athletic team so you can exercise with other people for a better experience. Also, if you are surrounded by other people and you enjoy what you’re doing you are more likely to continue to do it!

Ashley’s story

Lifestyle changes can lead you to a better way to manage your psychosis by inhibiting triggers such as depression and anxiety.

Ashley has schizoaffective disorder and experiences psychotic episodes periodically but is hesitant to take medications. During an episode of psychosis that included bizarre thoughts and delusions, her therapist recommended yoga as a treatment technique.

Yoga involves breathing exercises, stretching, and strength training to promote relaxation while working out. Ashley started doing yoga regularly along with cardio workouts and weight lifting 5 to 6 days a week. Not only has it made her feel much happier, but she has also started sleeping better. Her hallucinations are very minimal, and her anxiety is well-controlled.

There are different ways of managing psychosis and leading a meaningful life. If you are taking medications and seeing a therapist, including healthy habits can help with your treatment and well-being. If you want to manage your psychosis on your own, try these tips so you can begin managing your symptoms and doing meaningful activities that bring you joy!

  1. Owen, L. & Corfe, B. (2017). The role of diet and nutrition on mental health and wellbeing. Proceedings of The Nutrition Society, 76(4). Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/role-of-diet-and-nutrition-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/372284768DB78DB02EB199E277AABF79
  2. Lahart, I., Darcy, P., Gidlow, C. & Calogiuri, G. (2019). The Effects of Greenhouse Exercise on Physical and Mental Wellbeing: A Systemic Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(8). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6518264/ 
  3. Mittal, V., Vargas, T., Osbourne, K., et al. (2017). Exercise Treatments for Psychosis: A Review. Curr Treat Options Psychiatry, 4(2). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5636011/

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